In 1964, Barry Flanagan was 23 years old. He had already received a classical art education in Birmingham, had all sorts of odd jobs (antique dealer, cook, model, film set designer, etc.) and hung out with poets. He moved to London, had Phillip King and Anthony Caro as teachers at St Martin’s School, and started a small avant-garde magazine Silâns. That’s when Barry met Jarry. Picking up an issue of the Evergreen Review devoted to ‘Pataphysics that a poet friend had given him in 1962, Flanagan was delighted by the extracts from the Exploits and Opinions of Dr Faustroll, Pataphysician by Alfred Jarry that he discovered there. This ‘revelation’ of the ‘science of imaginary solutions’ and the discovery of the saga of Jarry’s Père Ubu would inform much of what he would create over the next 45 years.
Like Alfred Jarry (1873-1907), independence and radical creative freedom are the thread that runs through his work, from Hole in the Sea in 1969 to Monument to Letters in 2005. Unpredictable and unclassifiable, subtle and deadpan, practising the art of the wink, such is the artist who will be (re)discovered through this selection of sculptures, textile works, drawings and prints.